Academy invites 928 new members, reflecting push for diversity

PHOTO: Emilia Clarke, left, Tiffany Haddish and Mindy Kaling are among the newest Academy members.PlayGetty Images
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that it will extend invitations to 928 potential new members, reflecting its push for diversity.

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The new inductees, who come from 59 different countries, are 49 percent female; additionally, 38 percent of the group are people of color.

With the new additions, the academy membership will be 31 percent female, up from 28 percent, and 16 percent people of color, an increase from 13 percent.

Some of the new members include Mindy Kaling, Tiffany Haddish, Emilia Clarke, and two of last year's Oscar nominees, Timothée Chalamet and Kumail Nanjiani.

In January 2016, the academy introduced a plan to improve diversity within its ranks and voted unanimously to double the number of women and people of color by 2020.

Among the changes made: Instead of all members getting lifetime voting rights, each new member's voting status lasts for a decade and will be renewed only if that member remains active in films. Lifetime voting rights will, however, be extended to members who have served three 10-year terms and to all Oscar nominees. The organization also started a global campaign to identify and recruit new members who represent greater diversity, which is in addition to its years-long process of having current members sponsor new ones.

April Reign, an activist who in 2015 founded the movement #OscarsSoWhite, told "Good Morning America" in a statement that she is "encouraged" by this year's group of new invitees, whom she said "reflect the excellence in filmmaking that occurs in front of and behind the camera every day."

Still, Reign said she is concerned that the academy may not reach its goal of doubling the number of women and that the share of members who are people of color remains low.

"While they reached their goal with respect to people of color, 16 percent of the membership leaves a lot to be desired when we are all too aware of the contributions that people of color have made to the film industry for decades," Reign said. "I will be interested to see how the academy will work to close this significant gap and foster both equity and inclusion."

Nine branches of members within the academy invited more women than men, including actors, casting directors, makeup artists and hairstylists, the academy said.

But Melissa Silverstein, who founded the group Women and Hollywood, said women who work behind the camera still face unique challenges.

"The academy took another step in the right direction with 49 percent of its new class of members invited being women. It has consistently been a challenge for women to receive nominations in the areas that have been dominated by men, including writing and directing and other below-the-lines areas," Silverstein said. "Clearly there is still much work to be done in these areas."

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